IOWA CITY, Iowa - As many Iowans deal with a spike in propane prices, finding ways to save money on home energy costs is becoming increasingly important.
As an energy fair in Iowa City demonstrated on Saturday, you can start small, with something like a meter that measures watt usage.
"They're about 20 bucks, and if you have a lot of electronics, like most people do nowadays, it comes in pretty useful," said Shawn Rodine with Americorps.
Rodine swaps out a fan for a small space heater, showing us that even tiny appliance can be big energy hogs.
"You can worry about the stuff you should worry about, and the other stuff that doesn't use power, you know, you don't have to think about, do I have to unplug this or that," said Rodine.
However, sometimes it takes more than that.
Christy Shipley with Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity conducts home energy audits, and said many people don't realize how inefficient their homes are until she shows them with a special gadget.
"While the house is depressurized, we take a thermal imaging camera around the house and identify the exact spots where there's air filtration or lacking insulation," Shipley told us.
After that, spending even a few hundred dollars up-front on insulating can save thousands in the long-run.
"Caulking around your windows, sealing the attic penetrations, checking and sealing for penetrations at the rim joists at the top area of your basement," Shipley said. "We have had propane users literally chop that down from over $280 to about $89 a month, just by stopping that air infiltration."
However, maybe you've done all of that, and are looking more at the big picture. In that case, Iowa City recycling coordinator Jenneifer Jordan said you can always refer back to that classic saver of trees and energy.
"By recycling, people can save a lot of energy in the big picture of things, because it takes a lot less energy to reuse materials or recycle them, than it does to produce materials from new," Jordan told us.
Jordan and other fair coordinators said if you want to know how (in)efficient your home is, that an energy audit is a good place to start. Local energy providers usually have information on audits and other ways to save.